#206 theoldmortuary ponders.

Currently this woodpile is a woodpile gold standard. I love a good woodpile, they endlessly fascinate me. I pass this one most days and am in awe of its perfection. I’ve only ever owned one, woodpile suitable, house and I never managed anything quite as beautiful as this. My woodpile lived under a large open porch that ran along the front of the house, there was a bench next to the woodpile. On rainy days it was possible to sit under the porch and remain dry while enjoying the woody fragrances that the damp atmosphere enhanced. In the early days of on-line shopping a van delivery person thought the ideal hidden spot would be behind the woodpile, without any regard for the several tons of wood that would need to be moved to retrieve the item. They had no proof that they had delivered the item and ultimately the shoes were replaced. No one would move that much wood without the certainty of a prize. We never burnt our way to the bottom of the pile and so when the house was sold so were a pair of original 2002 crocs, if they ever were actually delivered. One day someone will find them, they are probably, after 20 years, a collectors item.

Tales from the woodpile.

#205 theoldmortuary ponders

You can tell a lot about a person by the way they hug.

For the next couple of months hugging is the loose starting point for my quick sketches. I don’t really know where the sketches will lead.

Hugging dropped out of favour during the pandemic and is only now rising, Phoenix like, from the still glowing embers of the new endemic era.

Have our hugging habits changed significantly. Will some people slink back away from the sensation of physical touch and isolate themselves forever from the causal embrace?

Others who have previously had a hidden,but effective, force field resisting hugs may decide that now is time to embrace their fellow humans in a way they never did.

I have always been a keen observer and practitioner of the hug. Watching it slowly return into the normal hurly burly of life is a rare opportunity to watch a human interaction re-establish itself.

Sketching and pondering hugs is proving to be an interesting project even if I have no idea where it is going.

The new etiquette of the social hug. It’s a jungle out there.

#204 theoldmortuary ponders

Bluebell woods can be tricksy to photograph effectively. This was my best shot of the day in some new to me woods. New England Woods near Ivybridge. The river Yealm runs through the woods and will become a freshwater swimming location very soon. Alongside the bluebells the Ransomes, or Wild Garlic were bright and white and happy to pose for a phone camera.

Not that they would have been quite so happy to pose if they realised that a bit of wild garlic is a wonderful thing when added to roast potatoes.

Unlike bluebells the wild garlic were easy to capture.

And the birdsong was equally compliant.

#203 theoldmortuary ponders

Sunset to start the day! @theoldmortuary has not gone completely mad. I wanted to ponder the soft pinks and oranges of May. The pink on the horizon of last nights sunset and the orange of the artificial lights illuminating the Royal William Yard.

My eye was caught by a scruffy little Geum in the garden centre earlier in the week.

There were much showier plants of late spring to look at but this one seemed to reflect the mood of the day more accurately. I am also a bit more aware of flowers in the softer pink spectrum since I did a colour mixing painting course. One of the pictures in yesterdays blog featured a painting by Beryl Cook that featured a silk dress in these soft colours.

©Beryl Cook

I’ve finished the course now but haven’t quite managed, yet, to fully utilise these soft colours in my own compositions. But my awareness in the last few weeks makes me think again that I need to give soft orange/pinks a proper go.

These colours were highlighted in the colour course, that I was doing recently, to be deeply embedded in my memory archives, although had I considered these shades even six months ago I would have dismissed them as my least favourite and now I seem to be, subliminally, seeking them out. I suppose that is the point, of course, of courses, to make me think. I just never expected to think pink. Now I just need to find a way to use it.

One more sunset with a hint of pink to kick off Monday!

Course details-https://tansyhargan.com/

#202 theoldmortuary ponders

Lurid dreams, reflux, and Wordle. Where could this possibly be going ?

Just one of those nights I suppose. A busy day was followed by a late supper and the evening dog walk amongst Pirates on the Barbican.

Pirate weekend is a big thing in Plymouth by 7pm it was a little ragged around the edges but it was obvious that after a two year break, everyone was anxious to bring out their inner Corsair.

Our favourite Saltash Pirate had been out and about earlier in the day.

© Chris Wotton What’s on Plymouth

We were just a little late for all the full on Pirate antics but the soft evening light made the boats look good.

The Barbican itself was possibly looking more truly authentic than earlier in the day. There was an air of too much sunshine and booze but in a good way, the sense of a day well spent having fun and the promise of an evening with high heels on cobbles, some wobbly flesh and tears before bedtime.

© https://www.berylcookprints.co.uk/

Visit the website below to get a flavour of Plymouth with it’s going out mood on. Beryl Cook is a notable Plymouth artist.

https://www.berylcookprints.co.uk/

None of this really explains my opening sentence, but I had a shocking nights sleep last night. Mostly due to eating a lively Levantine soup too late at night, reflux and a vivid imagination kept me in and out of sleep and this morning I had my first Wordle fail.

Pirates are life disrupters.

© Anheuser-Busch InBev
Cerveceria Bucanero S.A. (CBSA)

#201 theoldmortuary ponders

©Debs Bobber

This is our almost daily reality on the morning dog walk . Royal Marines out for a training run. Yesterday the bobbers experienced this, perfectly, in time run as they walked from the car park. In our street marines were practicing running with 60kg weights on stretchers. Other days they run in full combat gear and carry guns. Hugo and Lola are never reactive which is a good thing. The bobbers, though, were a little more vocal. Obviously in a good and positive way. Without exception we have all worked in public facing jobs. Doing jobs that are made a good deal more pleasant by the public being, at the very least, clean. Royal Marines on these training runs may be a little warm but there is always a, just washed, fragrance about them which we can appreciate.

©Debs Bobber

Marine Green seems to be a bit of a theme for this blog. The saltwater pool that the marines were jogging past was also, like the marines, dressed in shades of green.

Fragrant , in a good way, and so perfectly in time that they can be turned into a kaleidoscopic image. Welcome to the Weekend.

#200 theoldmortuary ponders

200 days since Pandemic Ponderings shifted without fanfare into theoldmortuary ponders. In much the same way that the actual pandemic has become without fanfare ‘ endemic’.

Always anxious to throw numbers about to illustrate the depth of the situation, news channels have been throwing the figure 15 million around this week as a total for worldwide Covid Deaths. Of course nobody actually knows, since around  40 % of the world do not accurately record either births or deaths. I know this because I’ve been doing a good bit of driving around this week. We all love numbers, ( I actually only love numbers if they are not anywhere near the word mathematics) Numbers give us scale to lifes failures, tedium and success. Round numbers are particularly satisfying and easier to cling to for some reason. My little number of 200 is well within everyone’s imagination as is 201 but 200 just feels more comfortable. But what does 15 million actually look like, and yet 15 million sits more easily in a sentence in a way that 15.33 million does not. In the same way #201 theoldmortuary ponders, will shrink into the shadows tomorrow.

When I haven’t been driving around this week I’ve been doing domestic admin and some fun stuff, very little sketching. In fact just one very quick sketch all week but I can relate it to this blog. I have been trying to sum up the discomfort of the Pandemic years with one image. Something I can expand for an exhibition later in the year. Playing with the truism about numbers that statistics are of no value to the individual. The header picture of this blog is a digitally altered version of my sketch, reimagined to be chaotic. The original sketch is the simple version.

Who could not understand two round figures/ numbers hugging.

P.s You can tell a lot about a person by the way they hug.

#199 theoldmortuary ponders

Sometimes it is hard to know quite how to tie everything together for a blog. Today is one of those days and thank goodness I have this gorgeous rope, found at Delamore Arts earlier in the week, to tie things together.

Today was a huge red letter day for a good friend of ours who went to Buckingham Palace to collect an MBE from the Princess Royal.

On a far less significant scale we got a lovely Whatsapp message saying how much a family member has enjoyed yesterdays blog about St Just in Roseland.

Such a lovely thing to say.

And finally in this odd little blog the dogs had a red letter day because I had a contretemps with a bus on the way to work this morning. Minding my own business in a traffic queue a bus approached from behind and attempted to underpass me in the bus lane and ripped off my wing mirror with an enormous bang. The bus did not pull in or stop. No harm to me at all but I was so cross with myself because I had nothing to hand to take down the bus registration. I vowed to follow it but then a traffic light got between me and my target. This kind of stuff just requires so much admin to resolve and it put me in a grumpy mood. So grumpy that I couldn’t be bothered to pull on my wetsuit to go for the Wednesday evening bob. But that is where the dogs got their red letter day. I decided to take them to the sea for their evening walk while the bobbers were doing their thing. The dogs never usually come with us. I calmed my grumpy soul by sitting on the steps that lead into the sea and the dogs looked on as the bobbers bobbed.

The sea worked its magic, my grumpies left and the dogs had the excitement of welcoming the bobbers back in after a long and challenging swim.

Three very different stories all tied up with a beautiful knot.

#198 theoldmortuary ponders

Over the weekend we did a coffin walk from Trethen Mill to St Just in Roseland. Our micro excursions over the weekend are very random events powered by just a little bit of research. Often the location is inspired by news of an interesting coffee shop, eating location or small event. Instagram is a favourite source of random inspiration. This was just such a find.

Footpaths that lead to churches are mostly relatively easy to navigate because as the name suggests long before motorised transport it would have been possible for two people, or more, to carry a coffin to a burial ground using the path.

The beginning of our walk was pretty in the way that many Cornish paths are but the view above was the first sign that this particular walk was going to be special. At this point I should admit to not doing a lot of research about this particular part of our weekend trip. Had I done so I might have been better informed.

Oblivious to what we were walking towards I was happy enough with the spring flowers and a winding path. But then just around the corner this happened.

There was also a signpost to a Holy Well.

Then on the return from the well the path opened up and the full view of the church appeared.

Really just a magical moment, a few steps further and we were at the ancient entrance to the churchyard that would have been a very welcome site to weary travellers carrying a coffin.

This was all reward enough for what had been a couple of miles of gentle downhill walking. But just as John Betjeman said this arch really does lead to a most beautiful churchyard. Oblivious to all this gorgeousness we had chosen this walk to be our evening adventure, not doing research really paid off, we were the only people here apart from a lone bell ringer and the rooks who created an amazing soundscape for us to explore this remarkable place in the setting sun.

Among the gravestones we found the most evocative name.

Bathsheba Tiddy.

And a perfect endnote for a blog.

#197 theoldmortuary ponders.

What to do on a damp Bank Holiday Monday when the dogs are at the groomers? Take ourselves off to Delamore Arts, a, not dog friendly Art Exhibition set in beautiful surroundings. This year is the 20th Anniversary of the event and I am ashamed to say that we were newbies, never having been before. In our defence we were not living in the South West for much of those twenty years but that seems a poor excuse to miss something so gorgeous and quintessentialy British in the very early summer. Regular visitors probably have a better chance of concentrating on the art,we were all over the place. Wowed by the parkland and the formal gardens before we even thought of looking at 3d or 2d artwork. Open for the whole of May this is an experience not to be missed. Full disclosure, there are lots of Drawn to the Valley Artists and Makers involved. I will only mention one DttV artist in this blog. Tessa Jane, who has been heavily involved in the organisation of this years exhibition as a local ambassador for Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis, the charity that is the beneficiary of Delamore Arts 22.

He Says Live With the World Inside You. Tessa Jane

The image below is the view looking out of the OMS Carriage Shed Gallery. Curated by Tessa Jane. So much to learn about OMS, the organisation, and Tessa Jane’s perspective as well as the valuable work being done by the University of Plymouth, all contained in a welcoming small space.

OMS seems to me, as an outsider, an organisation that supports people with MS to look outside and beyond their diagnosis. Hence my outside and beyond image.

I suppose in writing this blog without too much actual art I am encouraging local people to go and see this event for themselves. I am also supporting my own decision to go again and be able to write another blog that does talk just about art. Some hope!

Looking at plants like this was both diverting and the perfect preparation for looking at 2d art like this.

Wet Apples © John Hurford Hon SWAc

Wet Apples by John Hurford catches the eye at the Stables Gallery further away from the main house. Still authentically a stables, horses were being exercised as we exercised our minds. The Stables Gallery was the first one we visited after following the pencil trail.

A trail that took us, two cold water swimmers, past a swimming pond.

You can understand the pull and the fascination we felt towards just a quick sneaky dip in this tranquil water. But like the dedicated art lovers that we are we pulled our attention back to the job in hand and found life imitating art.

Gravel at Delamore
Azalea Leaves by Louis Victory

Then nature beguiled us into observing the search for pollen, by a very busy bumble bee. Who was up to his many armpits in the flowers of an Ichium.

Time to head off into the woods…

Portrait of Feathers Dawn Brooks-Ensor
Shattered Steve Hedley
Please Sit Isabel Coulton

Time to finish this particular Delamore Blog with my favourite sort of pictures. Its complicated…

Purbeck Form Four Andrew Thomas
Duet Dianne Griffin
Walnut Leaf Richard Cresswell